Books remain hot topic at LASD board meeting, spending and security questioned | Local News

The Littlestown Area School District (LASD) board was again bombarded with controversial comments about library books during a Monday workshop session, where safety and school expenses were also hot topics.

Eric Naylor, director of educational services, provided the board and the audience with what he called an “annual report, a snapshot” of the state of school system safety.

He talked about the last risk assessment in February, conducted with help from the Pennsylvania State Police, grants to help the district plan, and areas where upgrades, such as security cameras and radios, are in progress.

Naylor also assured the board that “all school buildings already have locked vestibules” to control entry into the buildings, with intercom access to the secretary’s area.

Naylor answered questions about radio use, for transportation transitions and who is involved in drills for students and staff.

Board members wanted to know how prepared the district was for security threats and how proactive the administration and staff were in their training.

“There are more things we want to discuss in the executive session to avoid revealing vulnerabilities in public,” Superintendent Chris Bigger said.

There are two directions when considering school safety, a soft side and a hard side, Bigger said.

The soft side is student support, provision of advice and access to services that are important for overall security, he said, with the physical hardening of schools being the other issue.

The council’s discussion explored mental health resources for students and the use of an information line which Naylor said recorded “49 contacts in the last school year”.

Naylor also described the district’s use of Navigate Prepared, a cell phone and “web-based application that is used in emergency situations to communicate with administrators and faculty to report to students in the event of an emergency. “, according to Naylor. The app helps teachers keep track of student rosters in the event of an emergency and “provides staff with access to emergency flipcharts with emergency protocols to follow.”

Council members discussed an issue they will face at the regular council meeting on June 20, which will require the school to notify parents if their child wants to view a library book on the 100 most challenged list. of the American Library Association (ALA). and forbidden books.

School administrators explained that this will be an “opt-in” process added to the current policy, which will allow parents to “opt-out” of their children having access to certain books. Parents would have the option to activate the option policy at the start of the school year.

Public comments were controversial and pointed.

School board president Dolores Nester opened the meeting by reading the rules for public comment, revealing the claims surrounding this segment from past meetings.

Littlestown resident Janell Ressler began her comments with a complaint about the public comment rules read by Nester. These comments “don’t add up and they don’t add up. This has already been brought to your attention. Ressler has attended meetings over the past several months with the singular agenda of attacking the district’s choices for reading available at libraries.

Following complaints about Nester’s public comment announcement, Ressler has pivoted to attack the district’s book selection and referenced lists of books she’s filed complaints about with the board over the past few years. month.

“The books I have brought to your attention are criminal. If they are carried out, the people who commit these acts must be arrested. And be in jail,” Ressler said.

Saying she has read the books she is complaining about, Ressler asked if school board members have read any.

“Why is this sexually explicit material condoned to be appropriate for our students in a school?” she asked. “It’s appalling to have a teacher come out in favor and defend these books. You are wrong to allow these books to remain in this school district. It is not my truth, but God’s truth.

Ressler asked the school board to “remove librarians from decision-making about books” and take over book selection at the school board level.

Chris O’Brien spoke out against the district’s new spending, citing “here we are, five dollars in gas prices, six dollars in diesel and 40-year inflation ‘marking tough economic times,’ and yet this council has a very expensive, unaffordable real estate project in its sights.

“Those who oppose it don’t hate children, and we don’t devalue teachers,” he said.

Considering “a project that has a price tag of $66 million” would overtax local citizens “at a time when the economy is unstable,” O’Brien said.

His comments were echoed by Donald Danneman, a resident who said he moved to Littlestown a year ago and spoke out in favor of school consolidation.

He addressed economic fears of a “country on the brink of recession” and expressed concern that “retirees cannot fight back. I don’t believe in giving up all the subtleties at this point in my life.

Jessica C. Bell